Brainy blockbuster maestro Christopher Nolan heads into deep space with this epic adventure, which is packed with thoughtful ideas and big emotions even if the plot wobbles badly in the middle. But although it ultimately feels somewhat forced, the film is still a mesmerising exploration of parenthood and survival, bending time and gravity in ways that keep our brains spinning. And the seamless visual effects combine with some wrenching performances to make it unmissable.

It opens in a future America where a desperation for food has overtaken the need for technology and innovation. Which is a problem for Nasa pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), who is now working a massive corn farm that he runs with his father (John Lithgow). Then Cooper and his daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy) discover a gravitational anomaly that leads them to a secret base run by father and daughter scientists Brand and Amelia (Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway), who are looking for a new home planet for humanity since Earth is dying. So Cooper joins up and heads through a wormhole with Amelia and crew (Wes Bentley and David Gyasi). Meanwhile, Murph (who grows up to be Jessica Chastain) gets involved in the project back on earth, wondering if her dad will ever return home as he promised.

The first act of the story is a beautiful depiction of yearning for discovery, that innate curiosity that drives people to do crazy things in the hopes of pushing the humanity forward (or in this case, saving it). Nolan directs this section beautifully, with sharp editing propelling the story out into space with real energy and passion. But once they begin visiting other planets, there are some extended episodes that feel oddly contrived, including an encounter that leads to unexplained violence, explosions and melodrama. These kinds of things undermine the characters' motivations to the point where the audience just has to take Nolan's word for it and ride it out, even as the underlying ideas begin to lose their weightiness.

Continue reading: Interstellar Review